Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Ebbles M8A3 Kirchner Main Battle Tank

As I promised last time, here's my review of the Ebbles 28mm scale M8A3 Kirchner Main Battle Tank. I don't usually include any figures in my photos of vehicles but this time I thought it would be useful to give you a sense of scale as this tank turned out to be a lot bigger than I envisaged. The figure is one of the Black Scorpion 30mm scale US Infantry figures that I recently painted. I have about three dozen of them, enough for a company.
The dimensions of the tank are 15cm long (6"), which does not include the added length of the cannon on the turret; 9cm wide (3.5") and 6cm tall (2.5"). Like the M11 MPUV that I reviewed last week, it comes in eight colour schemes - Factory Gray, Police Classic, UN White, Monotone Sand, Sand Gray, Olive Drab, NATO 3-Tone Verdant, and NATO 3-Tone Desert. I opted for Olive Drab for my colour scheme. Police Classic is unusual as it begs the question, what kind of a contemporary or near future police force uses Main Battle Tanks? Sorry, Mega City One Judges do not count!
The turret weaponry consists of a 155mm cannon, which comes in two halves - front and back. I've pinned the two halves together and pinned the whole cannon to the turret to give it extra strength and to help prevent it from snapping off. You have a choice of two co-axial weapons to place alongside the cannon - a 30mm autocannon or a heavy machine gun. I chose the autocannon purely for the extra firepower. The smoke launchers fitted to the front of the turret are optional but I wanted them on my tank. There is a further option for including a remote weapon mount, identical to those that I used with my Military M11 MPUVs. Somehow, I didn't think they'd look right on top of the tank turret so I omitted them.
The turret turns by the same method I used for the remote weapon mounts on the M11 MPUVs, i.e. with a pin. The turret and body are reinforced with layers of foamboard glued atop one another to give them a very solid feel and to prevent my pin from wobbling about. Nobody wants a wobbly pin!
The design of the tank is reminiscent of the M1 Abrams MBT currently being used by the US Army. It is similar but definitely not the same. It was an absolute joy to make as it is so unlike any other card vehicle I've made. This is one mean looking beast! You can download the PDF files for this model from the Ebbles website for just $5.00. You'll find it listed under the 2003 models section. I do have plans to use this in at least one ATZ scenario, although it won't be making an appearance this year. Next year, who knows?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ebbles M11 MPUV

Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with the the name Ebbles, as I often mentioned them when describing some of the interiors of my WWG buildings. This is because I'd often use their furniture pieces to complement that provided by WWG. Ebbles is another cardstock company whom I greatly admire. They tend to concentrate on sci-fi or near future vehicles and scenery. This is my first review of some of their near future models. These three vehicles seen in my series of photos are the M11 MPUV or SUV depending if you want a civilian or military version. The website describes them as being 1/48th scale, which means they'll fit in well with any range of 28mm scale figures.
I have made one civilian version and two military versions. The military versions come with optional roof mounted weaponry. I've made two of the three options - the machine gun remote station (shown on the middle vehicle above) and the missile launcher remote station (shown on the vehicle to the right above). The third option is for a grenade launcher remote station. This looks very similar to the machine gun but has a bulkier barrel.
The weapon mounts that I made do rotate. This was achieved by the simple method of pushing a flat headed pin through the centre of their turntables. If I want to use either of these vehicles as unarmed versions then it is a very easy task to remove the weapon mount. Underneath the weapon mounts and inside the bodies of the two vehicles, I added about half a dozen layers of foamboard on top of each other so that the pins would have something to slot into, thus keeping the weapon mounts stable.
The Ebbles website describes this as "the illegitimate lovechild of a SUV and a Humvee." The model comes with eight colour schemes - Factory Gray, Police Classic, UN White, Monotone Sand, Sand Gray, Olive Drab, NATO 3-Tone Verdant, and NATO 3-Tone Desert. My civilian version is in Factory Gray, whilst my two military versions are Olive Drab. Please note that these vehicles come with wing mirrors, which you can clearly see in the photo above, something that is missing from every WWG vehicle!
This set is ridiculously cheap at only $6.00. Once you've downloaded the set you can make as many as you want, and with eight colour schemes to choose from that's great value for money. The civilian version was much easier to make than the armed military versions. That's simply because the remote weapon mounts are a tad fiddly to make.
It is nice to know that Ebbles and WWG support one another. They view each other as allies rather than competitors, which is such a refreshing attitude to see in any industry. I love these models but I have one very minor criticism to make - I'd love to see a version coloured all black. That would be so useful for the likes of a presidential motorcade or transport mode for a bunch of Men-in-Black!

Note, if no post appears on Sunday don't worry. I'm spending a long weekend at home playing as much ATZ as I can. So expect some new batreps in the near future. The next scenario of my campaign will be called Riot!, which tells you all you need about what team Vampifan will be facing next. The question is, will I be adapting the relatively easy Police Riot scenario or the much harder National Guard Riot scenario from ATZ:Haven? Also, look out for my review of the Ebbles M8A3 Kirchner main battle tank next Wednesday. It's a freaking awesome model!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

West Wind Army Special Forces

This figure review looks at the West Wind 28mm scale Road Kill set GRK011 Army Special Forces - Night Rangers. Night Rangers? Never heard of them. This is obviously a small and elite group set up to combat supernatural creatures, seeing as there are vampires, werewolves and zombies in the Road Kill range. However, once I received these figures and had a good look at them, I knew exactly who I wanted them to be. These would be perfectly suited for Echo Team of the DMS (Department of Military Sciences) a covert team of hard ass specialists, who are the heroes of Jonathan Maberry's excellent novels - Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory. I reviewed Patient Zero last year as it dealt with Echo Team trying to prevent a zombie apocalypse taking place in America. A cracking good read for any zombie fan! Whilst The Dragon Factory lacks any undead opponents, it is still an excellent sequel.
So, let's take a closer look at these lovely figures. At the far left of the two photos above is the figure I'm using to represent team leader Captain Joe Ledger. Joe used to be a Baltimore detective before being recruited into the DMS for his exceptional combat skills. He is leaning back and firing his assault rifle from the hip - a very nicely posed action figure. Note that his assault rifle has a huge ammo drum, which I would say in ATZ allows the user to ignore his first Out Of Ammo result. He carries two spare ammo drums, so he's well prepared for an extended firefight! Slung across his back is a sword - very nice for decapitating enemies. He is wearing body armour and a helmet with night vision goggles.
Standing next to Joe is Grace Courtland, an ex-SAS Major. This figure was the best out of the group to represent a female as her left arm is covering her breasts. Not that Grace is well endowed in the chest department. Under all the armour and gear she is wearing she'd lose her womanly outline. I guess, realistically speaking this figure should be smaller than the rest if it was meant to be a female but I can live with the slight height discrepancy. Plus, I like how the figure appears to be assessing the situation as she holds her rifle aloft. All four figures are identically armed and armoured.
Next in line is Bradley "Top" Sims, an ex-US Army Rangers Sergeant and an African American who looks like he's been carved out of stone. Most people call him "Top." Unlike the figures of Joe and Grace, he has night vision goggles in place, not sitting on top of his helmet. He's holding his assault rifle at ease and looks like he's bellowing out orders.
Finally we come to the operative with the unfortunate name of Harvey Rabbit aka "Bunny." His parents must have had a sick sense of humour when they named him! Indeed, he does acknowledge in Patient Zero that he thought his parents hated him! He was in Force Recon before DMS recruited him. In the novels, he is the tallest member of the group. With this figure, his goggles are not being used. He is firing his assault rifle from the shoulder, dishing out a world of pain!
These are all very nicely sculpted figures and I'm sorry that West Wind only make the four of them. In Jonathan's novels, DMS has access to the most cutting edge equipment, armour and weapons thanks to their mysterious boss, Mr. Church (which is probably not his real name). It's always a pleasure to find figures of your heroes from a book, film or TV series. Not a lot of people will know about the Joe Ledger novels but as a huge fan of them I saw the possibility of using these four as Echo Team straight away. A serendipitous find for me! If I ever use these in ATZ (and God, I'd love to!), Joe will be a Rep:7 Military Star, with the others being Rep:6 Military Grunts. This set of four figures costs £6.00 on the West Wind website.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

WWG Streets of Legend TLX Set

Having just played my first game of ATZ with the new WWG TLX ground tiles this seems like a good time to run a review of them. I'll let Denny of WWG give you the sales spiel to let you know what you get with this set first -
"In an industry first, this city infrastructure terrain setting allows players to choose between three dynamic themes in all popular grid sizes: Clean urban sprawl, Dirty inner city squalor or Apocalyptic mayhem after the fall of society! Each richly detailed theme offers gamers the ability to build truly modular, truly multi-leveled, 3-D layouts on-the-fly. Design covered underground roadways, elevated road networks, overpasses, multi-lane highways, multi-story concrete precipices, inset alleys or scale it back to small local traffic areas. Choose between realistically scaled city streets or tight quarters roadways. This isn't just roads (though we've covered that in spades), this is; transit walls, railings, stairs (in 3 formats), ramps, pillar posts and all the raw components you need to create the exact city infrastructure layout you desire. And last but certainly not least, we've included full GSD support (automated cutter files) for those who own CraftRobo and or Silhouette SD machines!"
Here's a photo of the layout that I used for the recent Quarantine Breakout scenario, minus the buildings, which shows a 3' by 3' board. The main road, running north/south is 10" wide. Central highway sections can extend this by 6" per tile so that you could replicate multi-lane freeways so prevalent in America. Here in the UK, our motorways are rarely wider than three lanes in each direction. The road that runs east/west is two lanes wide with a road width of 4" flanked by 1" wide pavements. This is roughly the size of the old style tiles found in the Streets of Mayhem set. There are numerous reasons why I am such a big fan of this set but the primary reason is this - versatility. Your only limit to what you can build now is your imagination... oh, and probably the size of your gaming table! The tiles come with no grid, 1" grid and 1.5" grid options. My preference is always for no grid as that looks the most realistic. Having said that, the new grids on the 1" and 1.5" grid tiles are not too obtrusive. Then comes the icing on the cake, a choice of three textures for your tiles - clean, dirty and apocalyptic. The apocalyptic tiles are not as numerous as the other two types but that's not a major issue. For the board that I've shown here, all of the tiles in the top half of the photo have the dirty textures to represent the run-down quarantined area, whilst those in the bottom half of the photo are clean textured tiles, representing the cleaner safe zone. This perfectly demonstrates how the tiles can have an influence on the scenario you're playing.
As I continue to play my ATZ campaign I'll carry on using a combination of clean and dirty tiles. As the campaign progresses the clean tiles will gradually be replaced by more and more dirty tiles until there will come a point where I'll only use dirty textured tiles. After a further passage of time, say in year two of the campaign, the apocalyptic tiles will start appearing and eventually, they will replace the dirty tiles. I salute WWG for their foresight in providing us zombie apocalypse gamers with these options!
I've wittered on a lot about how good they are but are there any negative aspects to these tiles? Well, yes, there are. First, and most importantly, they are very labour intensive to make. More so for me, as I use my own recipe for making them, which differs slightly from the official instructions. To make a standard 6" by 6" tile here's what I do.
I first print the template to an A4 self-adhesive sheet. I cut around the four sides then stick it to a piece of foamboard. Then I cut the foamboard out along with the two slots per side. This is then glued to a piece of mounting card cut to size. I use 3M Photomount to glue them together. The mounting card is glued to the foamcard on the opposite side of the template. Slots are not cut out of the mounting card. The reason for gluing the mounting card to the foamboard is twofold. Most foamboard is only 3/16ths of an inch thick. The sides of the ground tiles are 1/4 of an inch thick. Adding the mounting card increases the thickness to 1/4" - clever, huh? The second reason is that it adds strength and helps to prevent warping.
My next stage in the construction is to glue a 6" square piece of thin card to the base of the tile where the template is. I make little cuts about 1/4" deep where each of the slots are to make it easier to fit the tabs that hold the tiles together. I use Uhu clear adhesive to glue this in place. The reason for adding this is to add strength to the underside of the slots. I felt that leaving them just the thickness of my photopaper would cause them to tear over time.
The final part is to print out the ground tile on good quality matte photo paper. I tried printing one out on the self-adhesive paper but the print quality was very poor. After cutting out the ground tile, I stick it in place using my aerosol spray again. They're great for covering large areas. Finally, I paint the edges of the tile that are showing white. Long winded? You bet! But, like all of my card models, these are built to last.
By the way, the easy job is making the connector tabs. They are printed onto a sheet of self-adhesive paper, stuck onto a piece of foamboard and then cut out. I'm glad something is easy to make with this project! As work on my Mayhem Police Station faltered, I was able to make enough tiles to cover a 4' square area in just over a month.
There is another possible downside to these tiles and that is the tabs. When I made the board you see above I put it together in three 1' by 3' strips. The best way to attach the tabs, I found, is from below. Making the three strips was fine but oh, what a nightmare it was when I tried to clip them together! Strips one and two (the top and middle third) went together relatively easily. But when I tried to clip the third strip in place the whole structure just fell apart. Cue much swearing! My arms just weren't long enough or numerous enough to hold everything in place whilst I tried to attach that elusive bottom third of the board. When I did get them stuck in place I then had to flip the whole lot over so that it was the right way up. Again, it came apart as I attempted this maneuvre! Cue more swearing!
However, this lead me to a discovery - not every slot needs to have a tab to hold it in place. This also taught me another lesson. It is better to glue four 6" tiles together to make a 12" by 12" single tile than four separate 6" by 6" tiles. This is something I'd already done. I must have foresaw this potential problem! I also have some 6" by 12" tiles made. I would not advise making any tiles bigger than 12" square unless you're planning on a permanent layout.
Eventually, I did get the board made, using far fewer tabs than I envisaged using, but it was an interesting exercise and I'll know better next time. We learn from our mistakes, huh?
Tile sizes are 3" by 3" (rarely used), 3" by 6" (seldom used) and 6" by 6" (used extensively). This gives you a lot of leeway in sizing your boards for your buildings to fit. Most of the old style WWG buildings were made with a 7" square footprint or some multiple of that. I have no intention of ditching all of the old buildings I've made - that would just be silly. But the beauty of the TLX system is that it is versatile enough to accomodate those odd sized buildings.
The TLX Streets of Legend set costs $11.95 from the WWG website and is fantastic value for money, when you consider that there is no limit to the amount of tiles you can make. In case anyone is new to this blog or World Works Games, TLX stands for TerrainLinx.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

My ATZ Campaign - Day 7 - Quarantine Breakout

We last left Vampifan and his two friends, Big Sil and Gap, after they had successfully repulsed an attack from a bunch of looters. They made the joint decision that it would be untenable to stay put, so they loaded up Vampifan's pick-up truck with supplies and made an attempt to depart Mayhem City Centre. Unfortunately for them, City Hall and the Health Department had decided to quarantine their neighbourhood. Police roadblocks were set up in place to prevent any unauthorised personnel from leaving.
This is my version of the Quarantine scenario found in the ATZ:Haven supplement (see p.7). This scenario saw three firsts take place. It was the first time I used my newly made WWG Streets of Legend TLX ground tiles; it was the first time I used the Litko ATZ counters in a game. and it was the first game of ATZ that I played with an opponent. Rob, my gaming buddy (whom Gap is based on) decided he'd like to try out the game. So I let him control the Police, whilst I controlled everyone else.
As written, this is a scenario designed for Police characters. I decided to play it as such but with a special tweak to include team Vampifan. Here is the group of characters that were controlled by Rob -
From left to right they are Ronald Adams, a Rep:5 Veteran; Mike Shelly, a Rep:4 Officer; Frank Messina, a Rep:4 Officer; Stavros Katsirdakis, a Rep:4 Officer; Jennifer Hayes, a Rep:3 Rookie and Robert Kane, a Rep:3 Rookie. Adams was a Star, the rest were Grunts. All were armed with BA Pistols and handcuffs. Their three vehicles contained a shotgun each. You ought to recognise the non-Rookies as West Wind Police Officers, which I reviewed very recently. The two Rookies are very old Citadel cops from their 25mm scale Gangster range (now long defunct). Being 25mm scale they are smaller than today's 28mm scale figures, which made them ideal for portraying Rookies.
The cops were issued with three police cruisers. Unfortunately, I hadn't made any yet (my big bad!) and so I replaced them with what I had available - two police interceptors (classed as sports cars) and a police van.

The objective of the game for the Police was to prevent anyone from breaking through their cordon. The photo below shows the initial set up. Anything north of the wooden barricades (towards the top of the photo) was in the quarantine zone. Anything south of that barrier (towards the bottom of the photo) was in the clear zone. The encounter took place at night but the area was well lit, so visibility was normal. The Police crew had to last for 16 activations before they'd be replaced by a fresh team. During that time any result of doubles on the activation dice would result in a random encounter (see p.10 of ATZ:Haven). Each encounter could only occur once. Here's where I tweaked it. On turns 1-10 the encounters would be generated as per the rules. However between turns 11 and 14 any encounter would be replaced by team Vampifan appearing. If no encounter was generated between turns 11 and 14 then team Vampifan would automatically appear on turn 15. Obviously, Vampifan's objective was to exit the board from the quarantine zone to the clear zone.
The Police had a number of special rules that would greatly enhance their chances of survival and odds of succeeding in their mission. First up, no zombies would be generated by gunfire or loud noises. Believe me, this gave them one hell of an advantage! Secondly, they had the "Halt! Quarantined!" special rule, which could potentially halt anyone in their tracks - even zombies! I'll explain it in more detail when we come to it. The Police began the game with their pistols holstered. It would take one turn of activation to draw their pistols from their holsters or grab a shotgun from a vehicle.
As usual, any page numbers given refer to the ATZ:BDTZ rulebook, unless otherwise noted.
TURN 1.   ACTIVATION - Police = 6, Others = 4
A slow start. No one moves.
TURN 2.   ACTIVATION - Police = 3, Others = 4
The cops shuffle about and hope this will be a quiet shift.
TURN 3.   ACTIVATION - Police = 6, Others = 1
From left to right, the Police are lined up as follows - Rookie Kane, Rookie Hayes, Officer Katsirdakis, Veteran Adams, Officer Messina and Officer Shelly.
TURN 4.   ACTIVATION - Police = 3, Others = 4
So far so quiet.
TURN 5.   ACTIVATION - Police = 2, Others = 1
This photo shows a different view of the initial set up of the Police. Still no movement.
TURN 6.   ACTIVATION - Police = 6, Others = 3
With an encounter possible one in six times, the Police have been very lucky up till now. Can it last?
TURN 7.   ACTIVATION - Police = 2(1), Others = 2(4)
At last! An encounter! I rolled a 7 on 2d6, indicating either Runners or an Injured Civilian. A 2 on 1d6 determined that the encounter would be two Runners. I diced to see which building they would emerge from - the lawyers' offices or the warehouse. These were frustrated lawyers (both Rep:4 Civilians) who passed 2d6 on the Move Fast test, which allowed them to run 16".
However, as soon as they came within 6" of the Police they had to temporarily halt, whilst the Police made their "Halt! Quarantined!" test. Both sides roll 1d6 per point of Rep and after modifiers are applied, compare results. For the Police, Veteran Officer Adams would make this test. He got to add an extra 4d6 for each additional figure more than the opposition. Each 1, 2 or 3 rolled counted as a success. So it was 9d6 vs 4d6. Rob scored an impressive 7 successes, whilst I could only manage 2 successes. A result of two or more successes for the Police meant that any Unarmed Civilian would obey Police instructions. Naturally, Veteran Adams ordered them to halt and they did. He sent Rookies Hayes and Kane to handcuff the miscreants and put them in the police van. Having a police van with them meant they didn't have to wait 1d6 turns for a one to turn up, which was lucky. Veteran Adams and Officer Katsirdakis took up position behind police interceptor 01, whilst Officer Messina moved behind police interceptor 02. This placed Veteran Adams almost in the centre of the wide road.
TURN 8.   ACTIVATION - Police = 3, Others = 1
Rookies Hayes and Kane march their prisoners towards the police van.
TURN 9.   ACTIVATION - Police = 4(4), Others = 4(3)
Another encounter. This time I let Rob roll and he scored an 8, indicating either zombies or a zombie horde. I was praying for a zombie horde and thankfully, the dice gods heard me. Rob rolled a 5 on 1d6, meaning he'd be facing 2d6 zombies. I rolled and scored a 7 - an average result. The rules indicate that each zombie moves 2d6 from the table edge. I wasn't too sure if that meant rolling for each zombie separately or for the horde as a whole. To save time I just rolled once and scored a 6, which coincidentally is the distance a zombie can normally move. All six Police drew their pistols from their holsters. No dummies these cops!
Rookies Hayes and Kane had reached the back of the police van with their prisoners.
TURN 10.   ACTIVATION - Police = 5(6), Others = 5(2)
Yet another encounter. They're coming thick and fast now! This time I rolled for a Sniper with a grudge against cops and firemen. He was armed with a Bolt Action Rifle. He would fire once at a randomly chosen Police Officer. On a 1d6 score of 6, he'd hit the target. As soon as he fired he would disappear.
The dice determined that the Sniper would shoot at Officer Katsirdakis at the far left of the group. However, his shot missed. Even so, Officer Katsirdakis had to take a Received Fire test. Although he passed 2d6, he was still forced to Duck Back because the Sniper outgunned him. Note the use of the Litko Duck Back counter. This was the first time I used one in a game.
Officer Katsirdakis found cover to his left. The blue counter shows where he went. Meanwhile, the horde of zombies advanced. Because the Police rolled a 6 on their second activation dice, none of them could move or fire this turn.
TURN 11.   ACTIVATION - Police = 1, Others = 5
Rookie Hayes placed the first prisoner in the back of the van. Rookie Kane fired once at the closest zombie but missed.
The other four cops fired twice each and in a dismal display of dice rolling, only Veteran Adams and Officer Shelly hit, but they only scored knockdowns on two of the centrally placed zombies. Fortunately for them, the zombies couldn't activate this turn.
TURN 12.   ACTIVATION - Police = 5(6), Others = 5(3)
Yet another encounter, but this time there was no need to dice for it. Remember I said before that any encounter between turns 11 and 14 would be team Vampifan arriving. The speed of his pick-up truck was determined randomly by rolling 3d6. I scored a 5, which quite frankly was pathetic!
The two knocked down zombies stood up and the rest of the horde moved forward another 6". This time, it was the Police who failed to activate.
TURN 13.   ACTIVATION - Police = 3, Zombies = 4, Vampifan = 1
The zombies were forced to halt at the wooden barricades, as that placed them 6" away from the Police. This of course triggered a "Halt! Quarantined!" test. The Police would roll 7d6 (5 for the Rep of Veteran Adams and +2 for having weapons drawn whilst the other side was not armed). The zombies would roll 6d6 (4 for being Rep:4 and +2 for outnumbering the Police by 7 to 5. Why not 7 to 6? Well, Rookie Hayes was out of the confrontation as she was still trying to get her prisoner incarcerated.) Both sides passed 3d6, which resulted in a roll off between the leaders of both groups. They had to roll 1d6 each and add their Rep score to the result. The Police only just won by one point. Very lucky! As a consequence, the zombies had to halt.
Now it was the Police turn and this time the five patrolmen facing the zombie horde all fired twice. Yet again, Rob's dice rolling let him down very badly. Officer Messina and Veteran Adams managed to knockdown the two female zombies at the far left of the group. Officer Katsirdakis rolled double 1 and found he'd run out of ammo! (The black bullet token indicates he is out of ammo) Rob was not a happy bunny, I can tell you! Before anyone reminds me about the Easy To Hit rule (see p.34) I know it. Actually it should be called the Easy To Kill rule but in any case, Rob's dice rolling really was abysmal! Rookie Hayes finally got the second prisoner into the back of the police van.
Finally, this turn, Vampifan got to move. A pick-up truck can normally move 18" in a turn. This is what Vampifan, who was driving the vehicle, intended to do. The blue rinse zombie was in his way and so he had to take a Vehicle Charge test. Being a Star he was allowed to choose how many dice he wanted to pass. Naturally, he chose to pass 2d6. Zombies never take the Being Run Down test and are assumed to have passed 0d6. This meant that Vampifan hit the zombie with an Impact of 5 (the Bash value of the pick-up truck). I rolled a 1 for damage and the blue rinse zombie was totally obliterated. Zombie kill of the day! Vampifan had to take a Lose Control test because of the collision. He passed 1d6 but because he'd only hit a pedestrian he was able to carry on driving (see p.27 and Vehicle QRS).
At this point, Veteran Adams issued a "Halt! Quarantined!" warning against Vampifan. He would roll 7d6 ( 5 for his Rep and +2 for outnumbering team Vampifan by 5 to 3. Once again, Rookie Hayes was not included in the equation). Vampifan would roll 6d6 (4 for his Rep and +2 for being in a vehicle whilst the other side weren't). Big Sil had his Machine Pistol drawn and ready to fire so both sides cancelled each other out for being armed. As before, both sides passed 3d6, which resulted in a roll off between Adams and Vampifan. This time Adams lost by one point, so Vampifan could fire at the cops but instead opted to carry on driving. Again, he had to take the Vehicle Charge test and again, he chose to pass 2d6. The pick-up truck hit police interceptor 01 with a Bash Rating of 8 (5 for its Bash value and +3 for T-Boning the target), whilst the interceptor had a Bash Rating of 3 (its Bash Value) (see p. 25 for vehicle stats and p.27 for the Bash test). Not surprisingly, Vampifan scored 3 or more successes (4 vs 1 was the actual result) and so he plowed through the interceptor his full remaining distance. As Veteran Adams and Officer Katsirdakis were in Vampifan's path, they had to take the Being Run Down test. They passed 2d6 and were able to fire at the driver before dodging out of the way and dropping prone. Unfortunately for Rob, Officer Katsirdakis was still out of ammo, so he couldn't fire and Veteran Adams missed his shot. Marksman ship training would be high on the agenda if the cops survived this encounter! All that was left to do this turn was to see how badly damaged police interceptor 01 was. For that, Rob rolled on the Bash Damage table (see p.28) and passed 1d6. The car rolled over and was irreparable. Ow, costly!
TURN 14.   ACTIVATION - Police = 2, Zombies = 6, Vampifan =4
Vampifan drove off the board, very relieved at surviving this encounter and escaping intact! Veteran Adams and Officer Katsirdakis got back to their feet. The other four cops each fired twice at the zombies. The two rookies missed with their four shots shots. Officer Messina hit with his first shot and scored a knockdown against the zombie with the hook replacing its right hand. Officer Shelley also hit with his first shot and scored a kill against the zombie in the chicken suit (at last!) but missed with his second shot.
TURN 15.   ACTIVATION - Police = 1, Zombies = 4
The zombies charged the police lines and this time the "Halt! Quarantined!" test did not stop them. Rob rolled badly, I rolled well! The female zombie at the top of the photo above and the hook handed zombie stood up this turn. Both sides had to roll on the Meeting Zombies table (see p. 44) with the zombies getting a +1 bonus for passing the "Halt! Quarantined!" test by 1d6. The zombies rolled 1d6 + 4 (3 for the number present and +1 for their bonus), whilst the Police rolled 1d6 + 5 (for the highest Rep involved). The scores ended up 7 apiece, which meant that because the humans didn't beat the zombie score the zombies could melee the humans without being shot at. Veteran Adams, Officer Messina and Rookie Kane were the targets of the zombie attack.
The melee did not go well for the zombies. All three policemen killed their assailants. Officer Katsirdakis reloaded his pistol.
TURN 16.   ACTIVATION - Police = 4, Zombies = 3
On the last turn of the game, the Police finally had some good results with their shooting. Veteran Adams hit and killed the last two remaining zombies with two shots from his Big Ass Pistol.

I hope I've shown how you can tweak a scenario not designed for Survivors so that you can use them anyway. It was a fun game to play, especially as I was playing against an opponent for the first time. Rob enjoyed the game but was convinced that my dice were cursed. Who can blame him? He had a lot of bad dice rolls on the day. On the plus side, he didn't lose any of his force, although I suspect the higher command of the Mayhem City Police won't be happy at him letting someone break out of the quarantine zone! Vampifan did not have a lot to do in this scenario, and Big Sil and Gap had nothing to do, but he did enough to escape from the dangerous city centre and that was his number one priority.
My final thoughts on this scenario are these. I love how my TLX tiles look. This scenario was meant to be played on a 3' square board, which I was able to achieve easily. With my old 2' square boards that would have been very difficult.
The Litko tokens were useful but didn't get much use.
The special rules were clearly designed to make life as easy as possible for the Police. No zombie reinforcements from gunshots and other loud noises gave them a massive tactical advantage. I'll admit to having reservations about the "Halt! Quarantined!" rule. Fair enough, I can see it working against humans, but against zombies?  I doubt it. Still it was only for this one scenario so I'm not complaining too loudly. All in all, Rob and I enjoyed playing the scenario and that's all that counts! Hopefully, we might get some more games played together as It makes a world of difference to have an opponent to game against.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

ATZ Risks & Rewards Cards

This is my second review of a game aid for All Things Zombie, the first being the Litko plastic tokens. I'll let Ed of Two Hour Wargames explain what this is all about before I go into further detail:
"What's in that building? Is it empty? Zombies? Survivors? What's their Rep? Did I find anything?
With Risks and Rewards we've done all the work for you. Draw a card and you'll know instantly all there is to know about what's lurking inside that darkened building.
Risks and Rewards is a 54 card deck that gives you a wide variety of information. It tells you if you've met zombies or survivors, how many of each, what they're armed with and all based on the type of area you're exploring.
All on one card
All that plus new weapons and loot not found in ATZ - Better Dead Than Zed. And did we mention the special Carolee (THW girl) NPC?
Risks and rewards: Save your dice rolling for when you need it!"
Searching buildings for loot is such an integral and important part of ATZ. Whenever one of your PC/NPCs enters a building you are never sure if it will be empty or occupied by humans or zombies. If there is opposition and you defeat them you can then search for loot and hopefully it will be something worth having. Often you'll find nothing. All of this is resolved by rolling on the appropriate tables in the ATZ rulebook. Now the need to roll dice has been negated and the cards tell you everything you need to know.
The three circles at the top of the card tell you how many humans will appear in a building depending upon its location - urban, suburban or rural. The type of human is colour coded - red for Gangers, blue for Military and green for Survivors. So the card in the bottom left corner of the photo above shows 2 Gangers in an urban area, 3 Survivors in a suburban area and 1 Survivor in a rural area.
If there are no humans in a building then there will be zombies. The number of zombies that you'll encounter is shown in the three boxes below the circles. So, the card in the bottom right of the photo shows 1 zombie in an urban area, 0 zombies in a suburban area and 2 zombies in a rural area. Note, you can never meet zombies and humans in the same place.
Going further down the card is info telling you the Rep and Weapon used by the first human of the group. If there is more than one human in the group you continue to draw a card from the unused pile to determine their Rep and Weapon. Anything else on these cards is ignored.
Finally, at the very bottom of the card is the type of loot you've found. Seven new items have been added and they are baseball bat, bow, crossbow, grenade, machete, SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) and scope. All are worthy additions to the game and I applaud their inclusion. One item from the rulebook that doesn't appear on any of the cards is The Cure. Seeing as it could only be found at a hospital or military base in an urban area if you rolled rolled a 12 on 2d6, I don't mourn its omission. Searching for The Cure should be handled as a special case. Plus, some GMs may decide it simply does not exist.
There are two special cards in the deck and they are the "Reshuffle Deck" card (self-explanatory) and the Coralee card. You can see them both at the top of my photo. Coralee, aka the THW Girl, is an NPC who may join the hero's party. Obviously, if she does, then this card can't be used again, although I'd suggest using it to create a new NPC, like for example, Vampirella, he says wistfully! Full stats for Coralee appear in the rules provided with the cards and I can tell you, she'd be quite an asset to anyone's party. Even better, I just read on the TMP forum that a 28mm scale and a 15mm scale figure of Coralee is in the pipeline. Yeehaa! That'll save me from doing a conversion for her.
So, what's the verdict? Well, in my humble opinion, these are an essential purchase for any ATZ fan. I haven't had a chance to use them yet, despite playing ATZ very recently (batrep coming with my next post!). They certainly do cut down on the dice rolling and are an elegant solution. I particularly liked how they handle meeting multiple humans in a building. A very simple but clever solution.
I noted with amusement and appreciation that LTL Dad used them in his latest Nuts! batrep, although to be fair, he did spice things up by including zombies in the game! He commented on his blog just how useful they were, so if you want a second opinion on them, there you have it! I have no hesitation in highly recommending them to all ATZ gamers. The deck costs $15 and can be purchased from the THW website.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

West Wind Redneck Militia

These two photos depict the four figures found in West Wind's Road Kill set GRK014 Redneck Militia. Up until now, I haven't reviewed any Ganger figures, although some of the Survivors I've looked at could be used as Gangers. However, these good ole boys are definitely Ganger material.
At the far left of the group is the figure that I'd nominate as the leader. He would appear to be the oldest of the group. He's holding a can of beer in his left hand and has the beginnings of a beer-gut on him. His weapon is a 12 gauge Franchi SPAS12 pump action shotgun, which is my favourite shotgun. I just love the design of it. I have done ever since I saw Arnie use it in the first Terminator film. There is a neat little touch that the sculptor has added to this figure that I really like - the packet of cigarettes tucked into the rolled up sleeve on his left arm.
The big muscular brute dressed in the dungarees has a dopey look to him and it would be dubious if he could walk and chew gum at the same time! Looking at the muscles on his arms I reckon he'd make a fine pack-mule. He's been given the important duty of carrying the group's supply of liquid refreshment - a four pack of beer. He is armed with what looks like a 5.56mm SG540 SIG assault rifle with folding stock. The weird squiggles on his lower left arm is my attempt at depicting a tattoo. I'm not 100% happy with how it's come out but seeing as he's only going to be used for gaming purposes I'm leaving it as is.
Next up is a young-looking gang member in matching denim jacket and trousers. He's armed with a standard Remington 12 gauge pump action shotgun.with the butt sawn off. That'll make it easier to conceal but a lot worse to aim. I have painted these figures very similar to the colour scheme found on the West Wind website but whereas they all have different coloured caps I've painted the caps of my figures all the same, just to unify them as a group.
The final figure of the group at the far right has a crazed psychotic look to him. Just check out his eyes. This guy will shoot first and ask questions later! Seeing as he's armed with a 5.56mm Colt Commando assault rifle, I imagine he's going to go through a heck of a lot of ammo. Selective fire? What's that? Fully automatic is the only way to go with him!
Together, they make a great bunch of figures. I like them a lot as they are nicely sculpted and full of character. The facial expressions, in particular, are first rate. Games like ATZ needs Gangers just as much as it needs Survivors, Cops, Soldiers and of course, zombies. Gangers can come in all flavours and these four represent one kind that are instantly recognisable. They cost £6.00 for the set of four from West Wind. As ever, I will warn you that although they are advertised as being 28mm scale they are about 5mm taller.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

WWG Police Interceptors

As most of my viewers will know by now, I'm building a 28mm scale World Works Games Police Station. Up till now, the only police vehicle I'd built was a police van. I clearly needed police cars. There are an excellent set of police vehicles in the Mayhem Police Station set, including police cars aplenty. However, I ignored them all as I knew if I started making any of them I'd end up making loads. I will make them, but probably after I've made the police station. What I really wanted to make were a couple of kitbashes designed by Bob Cooper in his Emergency Vehicles set. This set also included the ambulance and Channel 5 News van, both of which have been reviewed in earlier posts.
Eagle-eyed viewers will note the livery on my police interceptor is not the same as the livery found in the current kitbash. What happened is that Bob designed these before the Mayhem Police set was released. When Mayhem Police was released, Bob went back to his kitbash and redesigned the livery on the vehicles. He also made some changes to the ambulance and news van. Being such a WWG fanboy, I have both of his kitbash sets. Bob said he changed the livery on the police cars to better tie in with the livery of the vehicles from Mayhem Police but to be honest, I liked his original designs more than the upgrades, so the vehicles you see here are Bob's original designs. The cars themselves have not changed at all, it's just the livery that has been altered.
The cars are based on the sports car template from the Bits of Mayhem set, (again, reviewed in an earlier post) which gives them a very low silhouette. These babies are built for speed!

One thing that I did change on them was the roofs. The way the cars are constructed, the roof is in two halves, which leaves an unsightly line across the centre, where they meet. I got round this by adding a spare roof section to each car from the Mayhem Police set, which comes with lots of different numbered roofs for your patrol cars. I had to trim them a bit to fit but once in place they look fine. In honour of being the first two police cars that I made I numbered them 01 and 02.
I absolutely adore these models and I'll tell you a story explaining why. The first time that I visited Florida (I've been three times in my life) I visited a gift shop in downtown Kissimmee, which is where I was staying. In there I saw a poster that I instantly fell in love with and and had no hesitation in buying. It depicted a quiet stretch of road in the outback. Two cars had parked on the side of the road. One was a bright yellow souped-up convertible with the roof down and with its owner leaning against the side of it looking thoroughly dejected. His girlfriend was still inside the car, glaring daggers at him. The reason for their massive downer was the other car and its owner. The car was a Lambourghini Countach painted as a police interceptor! The driver, about to give the owner of the convertible a speeding ticket, was a drop-dead gorgeous police woman wearing a miniskirt that was more like a belt than a skirt! The caption for the poster read "I Can't Drive 55," a reference to the speed limit sign that could be seen behind the Lambourghini. Oh, man, that car looked beautiful, and so did the cop! I still have the poster today and as soon as I saw these cars I was instantly reminded of it. Happy memories!

I've posted a picture here of Cop Girl from the Desolation Row range of 32mm scale Black Scorpion figures, as she is the figure that most closely resembles the cop in my poster. She is showing more cleavage than the poster cop and she is wearing a cap, but nevertheless, she'll do for me. I have this figure and she is painted but I was too lazy to photograph her just as an addendum to this post, so I've borrowed the picture of her from Black Scorpion's website. My paint scheme is a direct copy of what you see here. Only my base differs, as it's smaller and covered in rubble. Incidentally, you'll be seeing these two cars very shortly, as they'll be playing a starring role in my next ATZ scenario.

EDIT: I've just found a picture of my poster on the Amazon website. It's still available for sale!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

West Wind Police Detectives & Patrolmen

West Wind make quite a lot of police figures in their Road Kill range. In addition to the detectives and patrolmen that I'm reviewing here, they also make motorcycle cops and lots of SWAT troopers. I'll review them at a later date. But first, here are the detectives from set GRK020 in the two photos above.
At the far left is a male detective minus his jacket. As you can clearly see, he is wearing body armour in the shape of a kevlar vest. Indeed, all of the figures in this set are wearing body armour, which means they're ready for action. This detective wields a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5 sub-machine gun. He has clipped his police badge to the top of his flak vest.
The female detective has sensibly had her hair cropped short to prevent it being grabbed. She is armed with just a pistol but it is fitted with either a torch or a laser sight under the barrel. She holds her police badge in her left hand. Her pose suggests she is assessing the situation.
The detective to her left is also armed with just a pistol, which he is holding in a steady two-handed grip. He is wearing his suit jacket over his kevlar vest. He has tucked his police badge over the belt of his trousers. He is wearing sunglasses. Note the way his jacket has swirled out behind him, indicating he has just swing into this firing pose. It gives the figure a nice dynamic feel to him.
The sculptor has pulled off a similar trick with the final figure from this set. I like that. This detective has the best weapon out of the group - a Colt 5.56mm CAR-15 assault carbine, which according to GURPS Cops, is a common weapon in the LAPD. This detective has done the same as the first figure I reviewed and hung his police badge from the top of his kevlar vest. He also wears glasses or sunglasses, depending on how you want to paint them.
Moving on, we come to set GRK009, which contains four police officers or patrolmen as I call them. I rarely ever use gloss paints on any of my figures but I did use Humbrol gloss black to paint the cops' hat peaks, belts, holsters, pouches and shoes because I wanted them to have a highly polished look to them.
We start off at the far left with a cop firing his pistol one handed. It is probably hard to see in my photo, but he has a radio clipped to his left breast pocket just to the left of his badge. He is the only figure in the group thus equipped.
Next to him is a cop with his pistol held down at the ready. His belt is equipped with a holster and a single pouch, whereas the previous figure only had his holster attached to his belt.
Third in line is a cop with his pistol drawn and who is pointing a very large torch in his left hand. I'm sure that the torch would make a great improvised club. His belt is fitted with a holster and a pouch.
The cop at the far right of the group holds his pistol in a two handed pose as he carefully takes aim. He is wearing a pair of glasses/sunglasses and his belt also holds a holster and a pouch.
Many firms make figures of contemporary cops and I have a lot in my collection, although most concentrate on American police forces. This is okay for me, even though I am a Brit. I set my ATZ campaign in Mayhem City, America, so I need American police figures. That said, I do have a smaller collection of British bobbies, if ever my campaign crosses the Atlantic or if I play something else set in the UK.
These West Wind figures are very well sculpted but once again, I take exception at them being classed as 28mm scale figures when they are clearly four or five millimetres taller. The size doesn't bother me, but I know for a fact that if some people bought them, expecting them to be 28mm scale, they'd be very disappointed. I have a minor criticism of the police officers' set and that regards the lack of gear on their belts. Where are their handcuffs, pepper sprays, daysticks, etc.? As I said, it's only a minor criticism and it wasn't enough to prevent me from buying them. Another point that occured to me, is that none of the eight figures is armed with a shotgun. This isn't a criticism, just an observation, as I know that shotguns are popular with American cops. The two sets cost £6.00 each. These will fit in well with my WWG Mayhem Police Station, once I finish making it. An Assault on Precinct 13 style ATZ scenario, with zombies of course, is a must do!